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Fiji PM sends warning to developers

Thursday February 21, 2019 Published in Regional

FIJI – Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has issued a warning to foreign developers who plan to do business in the country.

 

 

 “If you break our laws, you will be punished,” he said.

Speaking at the recent Fiji Tourism Awards in Nadi, Bainimarama said he was alarmed by recent reports of environmental protection breaches in the country.

“Any development must not come at the expense of the health of Fiji’s people or its natural environment,” he said.

“So to any developer from anywhere in the world – if you intend to destroy and forever degrade our environment, you are not welcome in Fiji.

“Our hospitality has hard and fast limits and we don’t take kindly to anyone who violates our laws. No matter the size of your development, no matter how grand the promises you carry with you may be.”

A hotline would be set up for locals to report environmental abuse, Bainimarama said

Last week, villagers on Malolo Island called for the construction of a resort to cease, saying the Chinese developer was causing damage to their beaches, mangroves and reefs.

Freesoul Real Estate is building a resort of about 370 bures, with some of the bungalows to be constructed over the water and others amid protected mangroves.

Bainimarama called on tourism operators to fully commit to the preservation of Fiji’s mangroves, forests, reefs, shorelines and its flora and fauna that “collectively make up the ecosystem”.

“I have been alarmed by recent cases of apparent breaches of environment protection in Fiji. Such breaches should be met with the full force of the law.

“There should be no exceptions. If you break our laws, you will be punished.”

Freesoul, in a statement, denied it had breached Fiji’s environmental laws on Malolo.

It said during a visit to China, Bainimarama invited business houses to invest in Fiji.

Freesoul said it had invested US$500 million in the Malolo resort and had received support from key stakeholders.

However, the government said it would prosecute Freesoul for breaching environmental conditions for its project.

“The natural, healthy environment is the backbone on which the tourism industry sits,” Bainimarama said.

“Fiji’s environment is not just some source of endless beauty and bounty – it has limited resources and must be protected.”

                - RNZ